Quantcast Ryan's Guitars: Stopping Microphonic Squeals and Feedback on Covered Pickups

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Stopping Microphonic Squeals and Feedback on Covered Pickups

Thanks to Jim Wagner of WCR Pickups fame I have learned a great new technique for stopping microphonic squeals from pickups with metal covers. This won't work for pickups that are prone to microphonic squealing even without their covers... but if the cover is the culprit, I have the solution!

It has happened to me so many times. I'll buy a new guitar that has some great sounding (and looking) nickel, chrome or gold covered humbuckers that end up producing sharp, squealing feedback when played at gig volumes with moderate to high gain distortion (which usually forces me to remove the covers). I personally like the look of a covered humbucker, and there is no question that the cover also influences the sound of the pickup, as well. So if you have a nice VOS Les Paul, for example, and are looking for that classic PAF tone (and look) you'll definitely want to leave those covers on.

The cause of all this annoying feedback is actually micro-vibrations from the cover itself. You can test this by taking a pencil eraser and pushing down on the center of the cover while the pickup is feeding back. If the squealing stops, the cover is the definitely problem. So, what we need now is a permanent "pencil eraser" in contact with the cover to stop that vibration.

Jim's trick is super simple. Pick up some "poster putty", which goes by many different names (Handy Tack, Poster Tack, Scotch(R) Adhesive Putty, etc.). You don't need very much to stop the cover from moving, so one pack will definitely do. De-solder the cover from the pickup and remove it. Take a small amount of putty and then stretch flatten it into a thin ribbon about the size of a single pickup bobbin, but no more than the thickness of several pieces of paper. Apply this putty ribbon to the slug side on the inside of the cover. You can add some thin ribbons of putty to the sides of the cover, too, for good measure. Just be careful not to add too much or make the ribbons too thick... it will make for a poor fitting cover if you do.

I just recently put the cover back on a Seymour Duncan JB that resides in the bridge position of my James Tyler Classic Strat. I loved the look of this guitar with the chrome cover, but it suffered from sharp, uncontrollable squeals when played on a loud, distorted amplifier so the pickup cover was removed shortly after I acquired the guitar. The putty trick worked beautifully and now my Tyler is whole again!

Just remember to squeeze the cover and pickup together very tightly to spread the putty around inside and keep on squeezing hard to get the two pieces as close together as possible. Then just solder the cover and pickup together like normal, and you're done! Voila! No more squeals!!


  1. Anonymous7:52 AM

    Great trick!!
    Thanks/ Peter E

  2. Anonymous11:01 PM

    This worked on the chrome P90 covers on my Reverend Pete Anderson model! AWESOME!

    Casey Just